Archives for posts with tag: google

I’ve been wondering for some time now why Google [not really sure which bit of Google to link to???] hasn’t made more of a play in the social customer care space.

I seem to start most of my posts with–I’ve been wondering … or–I’ve been reading …

I remember writing a post in 2011 [What’s the role of Google in your customer service?] asking the same question and making the observation then that for many people Google was their first port of call when something goes wrong with their washing machine, laptop or lawnmower. I put forward the question then, and to some degree I’m still asking it (perhaps a little tongue in cheek): Why don’t companies simply put a Google search box on their Help homepage?

But perhaps now I’m turning the question on to Google themselves and asking them: Why haven’t you made more of a play in the social customer care space?

If Google chose to make sense of all those search queries people asked around products, or when they use combinations of words such as ‘broken / fix + [product name] + product type’ and instead of simply showing entries for people or companies that might fix such products, actually offered a set of really practical and relevant results that included manuals and videos [YouTube], product information, people who have had similar issues, information in forums [fora?], grouped that information together in some way, allowed the results to show ratings and reviews, and alongside a directory of people who could provide solutions to those problems, together with phone numbers, offer the option for people to get in touch with each other via Google Hangouts to help each other out, then that might really become quite a powerful alternative to either ringing a company up or visiting their website.

Google has the opportunity and ability to make the links and bring them together in such a meaningful way, and in so doing, keep all of us on their web site that little bit longer. Perhaps it’s just a matter of time…


10 minutes after publishing this post: Just remembered why I was thinking about Google as a player in the social customer care space. It was off the back of coming across this upcoming session – Keeping up with the Customer – Digital Service – by Jeremy Morris at the Call Centre Conference in London, 2nd & 3rd October.


I was reading Michael Dell’s question the other day about using Google+ Hangouts for customer service.



I think it’s a great idea, and judging by the 300+ comments, so do most people. What’s also great is Michael Dell asking the question in the first place. It shows how things have changed.

For me, though, I’d push the boat out even more and think about combining Hangouts with real time data visualisation. Imagine, as a customer or agent, being able to see the different issues that people are contacting you about (whether by email, Twitter, phone, chat, Google+, GoogleMaps, Facebook, Foursquare etc), perhaps as a tag cloud; you might see trending customer service issues. You would see the different ‘conversations’ taking place at any one time, the agents and customers ‘hanging out’, and depending on your specific issue either join or start the appropriate one. You might even have different options for joining the ‘conversations’ – email, chat, Google+ etc.

Let’s see how we can bring customer service to life, make it more engaging, more responsive, more immediate, more personal, even more fun. Perhaps with Hangouts we can begin to put a real ‘face’ to the organisation. There’s no reason why this approach couldn’t be applied to internal comms or sales.

Google+ is only the beginning. The challenge is deciding how you want to use it. Because in this day and age, each one of us is able to write ou own playbook.

I’m delighted to feature my first guest post by James Lawther (Squawk Point).


A friend of mine was going to my home town for a long weekend with his wife.  He sat down and asked me if I could recommend a restaurant to take her to.

The moment I started to write it down he whipped out an iphone (apparently they are the future) and suggested I show him on that.  I didn’t want to look like a complete technophobe so duly complied by Googling the eatery.  The results were a revelation.  Not only was there a Google map with directions and the restaurant’s own web site, but there was also a review site called “the food place”.  Fourteen different people had taken the time to give the place a rating (Amazon star style) and, more interestingly still, five of them had gone to the time and effort of writing an actual review.

The thought went through my head that for pretty much anything I could possibly want to buy, somewhere somebody has set up a review site that revolves around customer feedback.  I started to look:

  • Pubs: Check
  • Builders: Check
  • Credit Cards: Check
  • Airlines: Check
  • Gentlemen’s Clubs (I managed not to look, if you really need to know you will have to investigate yourself)

The power of social media is just mind blowing.  Gone are the days when you will need to ask a friend if they know the name of a good plumber.

Then I started to think through the implications for businesses.  If you run any sort of service business at all and you upset a single customer you run the distinct risk of having it plastered all over the internet.  The only saving grace that the big utilities have is that they are all as bad as each other.  Type Vodafone or O2 into Twitter and you will see what I mean.

The first one to crack the service problem will make millions.

As for my favourite restaurant, 4 / 10; it used to be OK, but I wouldn’t recommend it now, it has gone downhill.


About James:

James Lawther gets upset by business operations that don’t work and apoplectic about poor customer service.  Visit his web site “The Squawk Point” to find out more about service improvement.

My washing machine broke down not so long ago. The rubber seal had somehow got a hole in it and was leaking water all over the kitchen floor.

Two years ago and the likelihood was that I would ring up the company I bought the machine from to come and fix the problem. It would take a few days to get one of their engineers round, piles of washing would rise up round the house in the interim, but eventually it would be sorted. The cost to me: time making the appointment for the engineer to come round, time to make sure I was at home, and the cost of the part and labour.

Two years on and things have changed. Instead I started out by doing a search on Google. Found the spare part I needed, bought it online and then did another search, this time on YouTube. Eventually I found a video of someone replacing the door seal.


When the replacement seal arrived, I set up the video beside the washing machine and worked through it until the new seal was in place. The cost to me: my time and the cost of the replacement seal.


This experience got me thinking about the role of sites such as Google or YouTube within the service ecosystem. From a customer’s point of view, these sites increasingly form an integral and natural part of trying to resolve a problem we might have. Rather than going back to the company we bought the product or service from we often look elsewhere for help. And if Google or YouTube is that first port of call, what is the implication of this on a company’s existing customer service proposition?

Should a company simply outsource solutions where relevant to sites such as Google or YouTube? Integrate them somehow? Or continue to believe that their solution is the right and only one possible?

Whichever path you choose to go down, don’t necessarily think about whether it’s the right one for you, but rather the opportunities you are missing out on or actually gaining in doing so. And in the final analysis: what are your customers doing?

I was thinking the other day what if you put Twitter or a Twitter-like application on top of something like Google. Not only would you get access to historical search results, but you would also be tapping into a ‘live’ knowledge base. A knowledge base that is truly up-to-date, a shared knowledge base, created simply out of the tacit knowledge that we all possess. We enter in our skills, expertise, experience and any and all questions pertaining to our criteria is sent to us, waiting for a response. Or we simply conduct searches for questions to answer. The system becomes the knowledge base itself. A single repository of knowledge that is constantly updated, constantly maintained, organic, growing, alive. The system through its users would check itself. The system would essentially unite all of us in a collective knowledge bank. Just a thought.